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Lord’s has banned alcohol-packed hampers for T20 spectators in a move to make the so-called “home of cricket” more appealing to a diverse audience.
MCC members and debenture holders are exempt from the new rule – but even they will be limited to either a bottle of champagne or wine or two cans of pre-mixed spirits and beer.
The announcement, which follows a similar booze clampdown at Hundred fixtures last year, coincides with the club launching alcohol-free beer on draught across the site for the first time.
The MCC, which oversees the world-renowned venue, insists there is no risk of Test match spectators being stopped from eventually taking hampers to England matches. Instead, the focus in reducing alcohol intake will be on shorter forms of the game, after some scenes of disorder last year.
“We just wanted to make sure that as many families come to Lord’s as possible, and also as many different backgrounds and ethnicities and cultures,” a spokeswoman told Telegraph Sport. “It’s really important to us that we are an inclusive ground. We had T20 on Father’s Day on Sunday, and we had loads of children and families at the ground.”
With no bring-your-own option amid the cost of living crisis, there may be some concern at uncertainty over bar prices inside the venue. Beer and wine prices are left out of the official website, although pre-made hampers are listed “from £115-£150”.
However, members were recently told in an email that they would be spared the rule. The Telegraph revealed last year that fans had initially been banned from bringing alcohol for the Hundred season after crowd trouble forced the early closure of the ground’s bars.
The stadium had also halved the number of alcoholic drinks an individual can buy at its own bars from four to two per transaction during Hundred games there and has been shutting them halfway through men’s matches.
“Everyone who comes to Lord’s should expect to be treated with kindness and respect,” the MCC said at the time. “The Hundred is a tournament designed for families and children.” Five of the seven Hundred venues already have alcohol-free stands.
Cricket is one of a host of sports for which alcohol-related disorder has become a concern post-pandemic. Debbie Hewitt, the Football Association chairwoman, this week expressed concern over the “worrying and ugly trend” of pitch invasions, which led to dangerous scenes at play-off semi-finals, after Everton beat relegation and during Manchester City’s title celebrations. The FA, Premier League and English Football League are now expected to announce potential partial stadium closures for such offences a week before the start of the season.
“If you look at some of the footage at the end of last season, it was disturbing and anything but safe for those players and indeed for some of those fans that invaded the pitch. It’s a huge concern and we are working to put in place the toughest possible sanctions that we can,” Hewitt added.
Earlier this month, Lord’s upset fans over its ticket prices for the first Test against New Zealand, with thousands of tickets going unsold.